Author: Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge
The majority of this book discusses a general theory of religion proposed by the authors. One chapter (entitled “To be perfectly clear”) discusses Scientology in the context of this general theory.
It is notable for the useful concept of “Pluralistic Ignorance“, which Stark and Bainbridge developed when researching UFO groups. This explains why Scientologists persist despite the fact that the benefits they were promised never materialise.
In Scientology, there are strict prohibitions on discussing Scientology doctrine and practices (such discussion is termed “Verbal Tech”). Consequently, Scientologists cannot ‘compare notes’. Also every advance is celebrated with a public ‘success story’.
Stark and Bainbridge propose that individual Scientologists who have not experienced the benefits they were promised hear the ‘success stories’ of others, and assume that they are the only people who have failed. They persist in the hope that they will eventually succeed.
In actual fact, nobody is experiencing benefits – but everyone believes that all of the people around them are.
Edit: This concept is covered in greater detail my later post “Understanding the Scientology Mindset Pt 5 – Pluralistic Ignorance“.